Bringing Christmas to Children Around the World

By Kaileigh Deacon

For the last three years the Church of the Living Stone in Baileyville has been serving as a collection center for Samaritan’s Purse’s Operation Christmas Child. Local churches and community groups have been participating in Operation Christmas Child since 1993 but three years ago when the current relay center  coordinator was moving, Beth Hillman of the Church of the Living Stone took on the job. 

Samaritan’s Purse is a Christian organization that helps wherever and whenever they can. They help with disaster relief and have projects like Operation Christmas Child that help children and spread their missionary work. The President of Operation Christmas Child is Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham. 

Operation Christmas Child reaches children in 130 Countries around the world sending them a shoe box full of necessities and toys they get around Christmas. While the boxes are sent to over a hundred countries only seven countries send the shoe boxes. The shoe boxes are filled by organizations, churches, or individuals before being collected and shipped out. On the other end there are missionaries in the receiving countries who collect the shoe boxes and hand them out.

The Operation Christmas Child program has been operating since 1993. In 2012 the organization celebrated sending 100 million shoe boxes. 

When filling a shoe box the filler gets to choose if it will go to a boy or girl and what age it is for, 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14. Then they get to fill it with whatever items they want. At the Church of the Living Stone each box, regardless of age and gender, gets a washcloth, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste.

“We try to include a pair of shoes in every box. Flip flops especially because they can be shared with other members of the family. Some of the countries we send to children can’t go to school unless they have something on their feet,” Beth Hillman explained. 

Each box costs $7. This $7 is to cover the cost of shipping the box. Any additional costs come from filling the box itself. Most organizations like the Church of the Living Stone collect donations all year so that when it comes time to fill the shoe boxes they are ready. 

In addition to the shoe boxes the children get the opportunity participate in a discipleship program called the greatest journey. At the end of completing the program the children are given a Bible in their native language. They also get a graduation ceremony with a cap and gown just like going to school. 

As the Christmas season gets closer and it comes time for the shoe boxes to be filled and shipped the Church of the Living Stone hosts shoe box filling parties. At these parties anyone and everyone is invited to attend and fill a shoe box, have some snacks, and just have a good time. 

If you would like more information on how to donate money to send a shoe box or fill your own shoe box you can contact many of the local churches or Beth Hillman directly through the Church of the Living Stone.